Assessment of arsenic and toxic metal contamination in soils, pore waters and plants surrounding a historical mine site in Czarnów (SW Poland)

Anna Januszewska, Rafał Siuda, Iwona Dembicz


Centuries of gold-arsenic ore mining activities in Czarnów village within the Evelinens glück mine (SW Poland) have left an enduring impact on the local environment, characterized by distinct geochemical anomalies and contamination in water and plants. We have comprehensively investigated the spatial distribution of arsenic and metals in soils, plants, and water in close proximity to post-mining dump sites. The findings reveal striking anomalies in the vicinity of the mine, notably elevated levels of arsenic, zinc, lead, copper and cobalt. The highest recorded arsenic content surpassed 290,000 ppm, with cobalt reaching almost 18,000 ppm and copper exceeding 21,000 ppm. This contamination was most pronounced around mining excavations and in the immediate vicinity of mining dumps. Additionally, pore water analysis from the study area uncovered elevated arsenic levels, surpassing permissible standards, with concentrations exceeding 600 ppb. Moreover, plant specimens (Rubus idaeus, Deschampsia flexuosa, Dryopteris carthusiana) in the region were observed to accumulate arsenic and other toxic elements, with Rubus idaeus recording the highest arsenic concentration at 19.00 ppm. These accumulations consistently exceeded established environmental norms. The presence of such elevated concentrations of toxic elements in both soil and plant life underscores profound concerns for human health, with potential implications for a range of health issues.


arsenic; mining; soil contamination; post-mining pollution

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